As of 2016, millennials officially outnumber baby boomers as America’s largest generation. These 18 – 34 year olds now make up 23.5% of our population and by the time classes begin this fall, more than twelve million will be enrolled at colleges and universities across the United States.
Digital displays are everywhere
There’s a staggering amount of information backed by statistics that point to the increasing importance of video, not just in marketing initiatives but also in communication strategies. Millennials grew up consuming digital content in all forms and video is the hands down favorite. We’ve also seen an increase in simultaneous device usage like watching TV while surfing the Internet on a tablet, a testament to their natural ability to multitask across digital platforms.
On the hardware side, these digital natives are accustomed to self-serving their content via way-finding touchscreens, mobile devices and ordering or checkout kiosks. Colleges and universities responded to these changes by adopting email, text, mobile apps and now the majority of campuses use digital displays to inform, educate and communicate with students, staff, faculty and the community.
Why campuses use digital displays
Before deploying digital displays campus-wide, Marshall University ran a pilot program. 96% of their student population noticed the screens around campus and 66% actually recalled something they saw on the display. These impressive results speak volumes about what millennials expect to see in their environment. But putting digital displays on campus is not just about the needs of students. Displays come with plenty of upside to make them attractive as cornerstones of a robust communication strategy and can evolve into a recurring revenue stream as well.
Students want to be connected with a college or university that relates to them and understands the trends important to them. And technology plays a part in the discovery phase when prospective students are analyzing postsecondary options.
Indoor digital displays in admissions offices are a simple way to welcome visitors by name and deliver campus messaging to prospective students as they wait to meet with admission staff. Then, indoor and outdoor touchscreen displays positioned around campus can provide access to self-serve maps, menus, directories, schedules and other pertinent information new and transfer students need.
Security and Emergency Alerts
Nobody likes to talk about catastrophes but when one occurs on or near a college or university campus, getting the word out is critical to everyone’s safety. In addition, other catastrophic events and emergencies like severe weather can have a dramatic impact on campus life and digital displays are an easy and economical broadcast tool. For world events and coverage, the screens can be easily programed to switch over and begin broadcasting news from CNN or other sources.
Cost savings and eco friendly
The true cost of printing is often hidden until a strategic assessment can be performed but typically it equates to anywhere from 3% to 15% of an organizations’ overall revenue. Prior to the digital era, campus communications involved a lot of printing. Think: flyers, posters, advertising, maps, tickets, event programs and other collateral. Printing related costs plus time spent distributing the information added up to a significant amount. Not to mention the waste involved when the printed material was disposed of, lost or forgotten.
Digital displays broadcast messages more efficiently across multiple campuses, departments and locations simultaneously making it easier than traditional means to drive messages to students and faculty. In addition, with the aid of included software, the system can be controlled remotely to conserve energy and templates with built-in approval channels can be created to streamline and expedite digital display content creation. All of which save money and help the environment.
Reach more students
The demographic of each higher education institution is unique but all of them include a portion of the student population who are non-English speaking and hearing impaired. Digital display messaging can be translated into multiple languages making them a cost effective way to communicate with students who may find traditional campus communication channels difficult.
In other cases, universities use displays to stream lectures so that students who were turned away due to lack of space can still participate and audit lectures and presentations they deem important. Student governments are also using the displays to get messaging out and some students working on psychosocial experiments like the impact of advertising on enticing classmates to quit smoking, are adopting the displays as research tools.
Digital displays offer the promise of reaching more people at a lower cost. Typically campuses provide opportunities for retailers like bookstores, cafes, athletic and community groups to advertise their organizations, events and programs for a fee. Instead or in addition to print advertising, digital displays offer more exposure at less cost to the institution. In addition, when used to generate revenue, QR codes and custom URLs can be created in order to track ad campaigns and build analytic data needed to make advertising sales easier.
What to look for in a digital display system
Because each use case is unique, the starting point when looking for the best digital display configuration begins with mapping out a plan for the primary use on campus. Then, it’s time to elicit the help of a partner who can assess, guide and help make recommendations on screen size, locations, indoor vs. outdoor, software configurations and features. That’s where NWN comes in. With over 16 years experience implementing IT infrastructure solutions including Samsung digital display systems across campus environments, we’re here to help!